OVO Energy Women’s Tour: D’hoore wins opening stage in Southwold

Jolien D’hoore (Mitchelton-Scott) made an impressive comeback from injury, winning the opening stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour in Southwold on Wednesday. The Belgian champion won the bunch sprint ahead of Marta Bastianelli (Ale Cipollini) and Coryn Rivera (Sunweb).

D’hoore fractured her collarbone after crashing on the track three weeks ago and said she was recovered enough to start the five-day Women’s WorldTour event, although she was unsure of how she could perform after taking time off. She now leads the overall classification by two seconds ahead of Rivera and four seconds ahead of Bastianelli.

The first stage from Framlingham to the seaside town of Southwold covered 129.7 km through Suffolk with one mountain sprint in Ipswich’s Christchurch Park as well as two intermediate sprints. The route was a continuous up-and-down, but nevertheless, a bunch sprint was expected on the slightly-rising finishing straight in Southwold.

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It was a cautious peloton that rolled out of Framlingham, with no moves on the first 25 kilometres. The attacks started only when the peloton reached Ipswich. Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans) took full points in the Christchurch Park mountain sprint and will wear the black Queen of the Mountains jersey on stage 2. The peloton briefly split after the hill but was quickly back together.

Coryn Rivera won the intermediate sprint in Needham Market for three valuable bonus seconds ahead of Amy Pieters (Boels Dolmans) and Chloe Hosking (Alé Cipollini). There were some attempts to form a breakaway following the sprint, but nobody succeeded in getting away from the peloton. The race settled down a bit after that as riders took on food. World champion Chantal Blaak (Boels Dolmans) suffered a puncture with 66 km to go but expertly made her way back to the pack.

After a big loop through Suffolk, the start town of Framlingham also hosted the second intermediate sprint with 50 km to go. This time, Pieters took the sprint points and bonus seconds, beating Danielle Rowe (WaowDeals) and Rivera; Pieters will wear the red intermediate sprint jersey on stage 2.

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